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Reviews/Visual Art

Sky Cave reaches lofty heights

27 October 2021

Forged in flight, the stories woven into Amy Perejuan-Capone’s new exhibition enchant Jaimi Wright.

“Sky Cave”, Amy Perejuan-Capone ·
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts ·

One of the most profound experiences that great art provides is an emotional connection to inanimate objects. The stories that artists weave into their work can be magical.

Fremantle artist Amy Perejuan-Capone makes these magical connections in her largest scale exhibition to date, “Sky Cave”, when she invites the audience to walk among her hang-gliders; gentle giants and custodians of her heritage.

Perejuan-Capone collaborated with her father for “Sky Cave”, utilising his expertise as an accomplished machinist, craftsman and pioneer of the sport. Via a series of three rooms on the lower level of the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA), she guides the audience through the evolution of hang-gliding, using seven complete aircrafts and harnesses assembled in the gallery space. Each represents a significant stage in hang-gliding’s development and her family’s history.

For Perejuan-Capone the ideas of familial relationships and inherited knowledge are inextricably linked; they coexist with, and are expressed through hang-gliding. It is this sense of heart mingled with memory and tradition that make “Sky Cave” so captivating and affecting.

It is this sense of heart mingled with memory and tradition that make “Sky Cave” so captivating and affecting.

“Sky Cave” begins in PICA’s atrium with Sky Cave Ballroom (2020 – ongoing), where Perejuan-Capone has erected six full, retired hang-gliders over two floors in various stages of flight. On their backs, she has hand-appliqued words in gold sequins that remind her of the emotional essence of flight and life, FEAR, FREEDOM, FLOW, DEATH, AURA and LOVE.

The lower room of the atrium and two further rooms have been covered wall-to-wall with gold Mylar, a lightweight metallic material designed for use in space flight. On the left wall plays a film depicting the hang-gliders on arid country, at a bird’s eye view. It’s a nod to Perejuan-Capone’s father’s airborne pursuit to find caves on the Nullarbor Plain, from which “Sky Cave” derives its name.

A harness made of a wooden board that is a rectangle with rounded edges, and red, navy and yellow striped strapping. The harness sits on a glass-topped table.
Woven phrases appear on a series of harnesses, for those who look closely. Photo: Rebecca Mansell

Though this room has elements of the aerial and the otherworldly, what prevails is a sense of emotional warmth and familiarity with the gliders. Bathed in a golden glow, they use their swan song to whisper their wisdom.

In the second smaller room, a series of harnesses lie in chronological order according to the history of hang-gliding; each of their colour schemes corresponding to a glider in the atrium. Using an inkle loom and gold thread, Perejuan-Capone has painstakingly woven phrases that reflect her experience of flight into each of these harnesses. Pod Harness (2021), for example, reads “TRUST IN FEAR”, for those who look closely. Through equipment designed to cradle the pilot through the sky, and personal mantras at a human scale, Perejuan-Capone beautifully conveys her sentimental connection to hang-gliding.

The hang-gliders and their equipment are old souls that represent the transference of love, understanding and a sense of adventure.

The final room takes a more sombre and reflective turn with Radioactivity (c. 1978) and The Trike (Dreamer 2) (2021). A series of archival footage on CR-TV, Radioactivity was filmed at Shelley Beach, Albany in 1978 and documents one of the flights Perejuan-Capone’s parents took as part of their hang-gliding trips around Australia.

At the centre of the room sits The Trike (Dreamer) 2, a replica microlight aircraft whose broken wings belonged to a family friend taken from them too soon. Serving both as a memorial, reflection and celebration, Perejuan-Capone’s aircrafts are vehicles of emotional resonance.

“Sky Cave” is not only a depiction of the art of hang-gliding and its evolution in Western Australia, it is also a soulful archive of the relationship between Perejuan-Capone and her father, their bonds forged in flight, and the work they have made together. The hang-gliders and their equipment are old souls that represent the transference of love, understanding and a sense of adventure.

The Sky Cave is where you feel at home with giants.

“Sky Cave” continues at PICA until 9 January 2022 running alongside “Coming Home” by Alex Martinis Roe.

Read an interview with Amy Perejuan-Capone, “Paying life-sized homage to flying machines”.

Pictured top: Installation view of ‘Sky Cave Ballroom (2020-ongoing)’ by Amy Perejuan-Capone, at PICA as part of ‘Sky Cave’. Photo: Rebecca Mansell

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Author —
Jaimi Wright

Jaimi Wright is your friendly neighbourhood art historian. She has just completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) at UWA and dabbles in curating, local arts writing, and 19th century French history. Her favourite piece of play equipment is the roundabout even though her stomach should know better.

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